Rainbow Warrior confronts US military shipment as it tries to leave Holland for the Gulf

Press release - 20 February, 2003

Greenpeace activists are over powered by a policeboat as they try to prevent the Dutch hired vessel NDS PROGRESS from leaving her berth in Rotterdam harbour. The ship is carriying US militairy equipment, bound for the Gulf adding to the arms build-up to war against Iraq.

Early this morning, the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior sailed into the Dutch port of Rotterdam and confronted a ship loaded with US military equipment that was about to leave Holland for the Gulf.

25 activists from Argentina,Australia, Finland, Russia, Mexico, New Zealand, Germany, the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey used three inflatable boats and canoes to try and prevent the cargo vessel, 'MV Progress', leaving port. The activists were chased by Dutch police and U.S. military personnel used water cannons to try and stop them climbing onto the side of the cargo vessel. One Australian activist has been arrested but the protest is ongoing.

"Day and night, US tanks and helicopters are being shipped to the Gulf from European ports. Greenpeace is determined to do everything it can to stop this relentless march to war. Not only would it make the world a more volatile and dangerous place, it'd also be illegal, disastrous and immoral," said Femke Bartels of Greenpeace, speaking from the port of Rotterdam.

"It's illegal under the United Nations Charter. It'd be disastrous for the people of Iraq, for the environment and for international security. It'd also be morally wrong, and an irrational way to address the global problem of weapons of mass destruction," she added.

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair have cited Iraq's suspected possession of weapons of mass destruction as a justification for an invasion, yet the US and the UK have some of the world's biggest arsenals of such weapons. They have made it clear they will not refrain from using their weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and would even consider using nuclear weapons although the International Court of Justice has ruled that threatening nuclear war is illegal.

Greenpeace is opposed to war on Iraq whether or not an attack is sanctioned by the United Nations. Greenpeace considers the solution to weapons of mass destruction is collective international arms control and disarmament. The frameworks already exist in the form of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. But, rather than being strengthened, these global treaties are being undermined, especially by the Bush Administration. Although both the US and the UK committed themselves to nuclear disarmament thirty years ago, they have actively increased their nuclear arsenals ever since.

Greenpeace is calling on the Dutch government to stop aligning itself with those countries intent on war and to start listening to the views of its people and to team up with other European countries that favour a peaceful solution to the present crisis in the Middle East.

Notes: The Rainbow Warrior recently disrupted U.S. war preparations in the U.K. and Belgium.